What a crazy adventure it is to follow Jesus! It is fun, scary, exhilarating and the best decision anyone could ever make!!!
Last night was the most amazing night of my life, that I can remember. The Mass was beautiful and we were all so encouraged to see so many people filling the pews and 27 wonderful priests at the altar! (CLICK HERE for a short 1-minute video of the procession into the church.) Fr. Tim Deely gave a beautiful homily and part of it is what is inspiring this blog post. He compared the entire salvation history, from Abraham all the way to Jesus to something like a symphony that is continuing to play to this very day, into our own time. Like a song, or a symphony…we are still playing on. Jesus is still saving. He is still working, through us. His song is still playing, and we are the ones carrying the notes right now. Now, if Fr. Deely is reading this, and if I happened to get his words completely wrong…I apologize Father! (I was sitting in the very back pew and the air conditioner on the back wall is extremely loud so I was straining to hear.) Anyway, what I THOUGHT I heard Fr. Deely say got me thinking. As we left the church, with a light rain coming down and a whole crowd of about 200+ people with candles…I had to lead the way because I was the only one who knew the route. I wasn’t sure if the police would be there to block traffic. I wasn’t sure if the rain would cause the procession to be cancelled. As we walked in the dark, with the wonderful Pittsburgh Police (at least 10 of them on motorcycles) keeping us all safe, I felt like we were all “winging” it…just hoping and praying that nothing would go wrong! After walking in silence for a few minutes, the seminarians began to sing. They must be trained. They sounded beautiful…angelic! Along the route, I was hoping no one would slip on the wet pavement. I was hoping I didn’t make any mistakes about which roads to turn on. I wasn’t sure if the procession was staying together behind me. The wind made all our candles go out as we walked.
When we arrived in front of Planned Parenthood, we had no set agenda. I didn’t know if people would stand or kneel, but almost as one body…everyone who was able dropped to their knees. I didn’t know how long Fr. Chris was planning to hold the heavy monstrance in front of those terrible doors, I thought he would stay on his knees for a few minutes. We all stayed that way…on our knees…on the dirty wet pavement…for at least 20 minutes. Someone still had a lit candle and so from that one candle, the light began to spread and soon all our candles were burning. It was beautiful. We filled the entire section of Liberty Avenue in front of Planned Parenthood, and Fr. Chris kept Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament facing into the glass doors of Planned Parenthood. You can see in the photo at the top of this post the reflection of the Blessed Sacrament in the glass. I imagine that Jesus was inside of that dark place, reflecting back at us.
So, what I am thinking about in this post is this: When Jesus was here on this earth as a man, his followers surely must have felt the same way that I felt last night. Unsure, anxious, stressed, confused….but also exhilarated and amazed! The Christian walk is surely not boring! It is an adventure if we do it right! Of course, if we keep our faith inside of our church walls, it will get stale and stuffy. But when we bring it into the world…it is like a roller coaster ride!
Our event last night was not your typical “Rah-Rah,” “Yay team!” event. No, it was more like a “God, we are sorry…we repent…please forgive us and heal our land” event. Seeing people’s bare knees kneeling on the rough pavement in the rain, and the priests’ spotless white robes being dirtied while they knelt…Fr. Chris straining to hold the monstrance up while kneeling for almost half an hour…made me think of Old Testament repentance. We no longer put on sackcloth and ash…but I think this was the modern equivalent.
Today’s Gospel (in the traditional Catholic Missal) was the perfect verse for day one of our 40 Days for Life. From Mark 9, Jesus says, “This kind (of demon) can be cast out in no way except by prayer and fasting.” And the epistle reading was from 2 Ezra 8 1-10. In this reading, Ezra is reading the book of Moses to the people, who had been deprived of knowing God’s law for generations, and so had fallen into sin. They were all eager to know what the Lord was speaking through His law, and so they all listened. In this reading, it says, “…and all the people answered ‘Amen, Amen’, lifting up their hands; and they bowed down, and adored God, with their faces to the ground.” This reminds me of what happened in front of Planned Parenthood last night.
May God hear our prayers, our weeping and be pleased with our fasting and our sacrifices. May He end abortion and all abominations that cry out to God for justice. May He be in us and with us on the sidewalk throughout these 40 days. Thank you all for your help in keeping the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood covered in prayer and repentance.
God bless you!
Read on for today’s shift reports:
Charlene & Beth 7-9
Happy Fall Campaign!! The Lord is certainly looking out for us!! It was supposed to rain all day and first shift only had drizzles and it only improved from there. Beth, Peggy and I usually have Wednesday 7-9 but Peggy is off and Beth is caring for her Mom. Beth’s husband Randy came for her and what a joy he was. Very approachable!! Loved having him there. And then we were joined by Vince…a regular on the sidewalk for many years. It’s always nice to have an expert on hand. First shift was awesome! Even with clouds and some rain and abortion-minded individuals, this song came to mind: “We are the light of the world, Let our light shine among men, That they may see the good that we do and give Glory to God.” Peace…Charlene
Terri & Elsie 9-11
I arrived at the same time as my partner, Elsie. Unfortunately, it was busy with women going in the doors. We were able to get literature and our yellow cards passed out to those who passed by and a few of the women who came out. We were joined by Dean and later by Dan from Steubenville. As Elsie and I were leaving, a lovely mother with a beautiful baby girl walked by and thanked us for being there. I noticed that the little girl had a pink rosary attached to her carrier. The mother told us that the baby’s name is Francesca and she was born on the Feast Day of Saint Francis. She will be one next week. We stand there for all of the unborn Francescas that deserve to be born.Terri
Katie & Sharon 11-1
Sharon and I were joined by Joyce, Harry and Monica, and also J. A., T., Darryl, Tom and Eileen today. It was an unusually busy day unfortunately. I had a conversation with an angry passersby, which didn’t seem to plant any seeds. (But you never know.) And Elsie spoke with a mother holding a baby girl who seemed happy to see us there. We had several honks and thumbs-ups from drivers (and only a few other gestures!)Katie
Chris & Conrad 1-3
What a beautiful day to start the Fall Campaign. I was joined by Conrad, my Shift Buddy, Monica, from Holy Spirit in New Castle, Joyce, from St. Michael the Archangel, Philene, Katie, and Mimi. Joyce and I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary together as people and cars passed by. Monica, bubbling with enthusiasm, held a Choose Life sign while exhorting motorists stopped at the stop light to choose life and chanted for men to stand up and choose Life for their child. Ever-persistent Katie offered life-saving literature to passersby, as did Conrad.Chris
Beth & Eileen 3-5
Well, rain it did! Steve from Carlow, Claudia from the North Hills, Beth from St. Aidan’s, Rose and I thought we might escape the deluge but before we knew it, a geyser was shooting up from the broken drain pipe next to the yellow bar. Earlier, a few women came out carrying the brown paper bag and instruction sheets; we offered help but just got stony looks. When is this travesty ever going to stop? When our shift ended, we placed all our signs in the trunk along with two big umbrellas. Town was pretty much deserted by this time. Only 40 Days and the raindrops made it to 5 p.m.
P.S.–Diane, you were smart to pick up the supplies earlier; you avoided the wet!
Beth wrote the following reflection which I want to post with her shift report:
Senator Tom Cotton recently announced that he believes Roe v. Wade will be reversed this year when the Supreme Court reconvenes. So pro-lifers can stop and just be happy, right? It doesn’t always work that way.
In 1956, the Supreme Court ended segregation, “separate but equal” in deciding Brown v. the Board of Education. That was over seventy years ago. And according to the “main stream media” segregation is alive and well due to “systemic racism” in America. It’s not; statues have been put in place to insure equal treatment under the law. But the illusion of racism and segregation still exists and gets reported all the time, over and over. Changing the law doesn’t always change hearts.
Remember we were told that abortion would end poverty, especially poverty that surrounds poor women and their children. Easy fix. End of story. Just give women abortion and everything will be just fine. Yet, more women and children live under the poverty line now than before Roe. The solution to the problem, didn’t work and 40 years later, still doesn’t work. Killing children in the womb, quick, relatively cheap, especially if the government picks up the bill, is not the answer. As Thomas Sowell points out, to end poverty, do three simple things: finish high school, get a job and keep it, and get pregnant and have children after marriage. There is a solution but many see it as more difficult than a quick trip to Planned Parenthood.
But just as the government has tried anything and everything to stop racism, the same government proposes abortion to end poverty. And it doesn’t work. So, when Roe v. Wade is reversed, the work of the prolife movement will begin anew. Racism is ended by changing the hearts of people in relation to their fellow human beings, seeing each person as a child of God and our brother/sister. Abortion will be ended by changing hearts so that we all see the preborn child as fellow human beings, children of God and our brothers/sisters.
We change hearts by doing what we’re doing. Giving out a little yellow card with help written all over it. Standing in the rain, snow, heat and calmly explaining why 40 Days exists and offering help to fathers and mothers who can’t see how this new baby is a solution to their problem, not the problem.
We can do it.
Charlie & Amy 5-7
After a rough start with the rain it was a quiet and peaceful night on the sidewalk. Got to pray a rosary and talked to Dave more deeply about 40days for life and sidewalk advocates. Lots of positive reactions from the passing people with no negative responses. All in all I think a great end to our first day.Charlie